Roles of the methyl and methylene groups of mercapto acids in the photoluminescence efficiency and carrier trapping dynamics of CdTe QDs†
Surface protection using an appropriate ligand is essential for controlling the size, stability and luminescence properties of the quantum dots (QDs). Though 3-mercaptopropanoic acid (3-MPA) is regarded as the most suitable protecting ligand among the mercapto acids for water soluble CdTe QDs, one receives a different picture from recent studies, which report a much higher luminescence efficiency of 3-mercaptobutyric acid (3-MBA) capped QDs compared with those capped by 3-MPA and attribute the observation to the influence of the side methyl group of mercapto acids. Herein we report the luminescence properties and carrier trapping dynamics of four different, but structurally related mercapto acid capped CdTe QDs prepared using a different method. The results show that these QDs are much more fluorescent than those prepared directly in an aqueous environment and surprisingly, no enhanced luminescence for the QDs capped by mercapto acids containing a side methyl group is observed. Ultrafast pump–probe measurements confirm these results in addition to providing insight into the carrier trapping dynamics of these systems. It is shown that our findings, which appear to be in conflict with the recent literature, can be rationalized and the exact role of the side methyl group of the mercapto acids can be understood by careful analysis of the results taking into consideration the difference in the methods of preparation of the QDs in the two cases.